9 Proven Strategies for Improving Your Agency’s New Client Pipeline
Running a marketing agency is no easy task since agency owners have to face multiple challenges with intense market competition to acquire new clients. Especially amid the current economic slowdowns and upcoming recession outlook, things get even tougher to maintain a healthy bottom line.
As you look for a way to improve the business situation, a strategic sales pipeline is a must-have process to find and win more clients during this hard time. It can streamline your sales cycle, boost your conversion rate, and help you reach your revenue goals.
Let’s explore the 9 best practices to build an effective client pipeline for your creative agency.
What is a client sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline manages prospects as they move down your sales funnel. It provides you with a visual and organized method to oversee all prospects and nurture leads toward a purchase or contract. It also supports you to predict your revenue and recognize obstacles along the way.
While agencies have different business models and different sales processes, here are the common 7 stages of a sales funnel:
- Lead qualification
- Demo, online or in-person meeting
- Contract signing
Once you’ve known your pipeline’s key stages, try to keep it filled up. The more promising opportunities you discover, the more leads you can transform into customers, and the more revenue you will make. If you don’t have a strong client pipeline, it’s now time to evaluate your current process and make improvements.
How to improve your agency’s client pipeline
Here are the top 9 strategies to strengthen your sales pipeline and push your agency forward.
- Create your ideal client persona
Whether your agency does SEO, PR, creative campaigns, or digital transformation services, you should have a vision of your core values and how you prefer to collaborate with clients.
Think about the types of clients, brands, or contacts in your niche that you’d love to work with in the long term. Answer these questions to give you some inspiration to set up your ideal client profile:
- Which personality traits make you admire or appreciate?
- What is their working culture and how do they treat their business partners?
- What are their pain points and what is your solution to help them?
- How do they align with your value and inspire you?
The above characteristics will help you map out a blueprint to find new clients with a higher conversion possibility. It also means saying no to clients who don’t share your values and belief. You should focus your effort on the right-fit clients and foster relationships with them. It’s better to gain a few long-term and highly valuable contracts than to make various small deals that take you significant time to manage. Quality is better than quantity, and this is true in the agency world.
- Decide your revenue targets
Not setting up revenue targets is one of the main reasons that businesses fall short. Establishing a sales goal is crucial to developing strategies for your pipeline and optimizing your execution to reach that goal and facilitate growth.
Thus, before jumping on looking for clients, determine what revenue success looks like to you. Analyze your past data, products, current sales pipeline, and market trend to decide on a suitable target. From there, you can plan to expand your customer base and engage with existing customers to keep them loyal.
- Invest in agency management software to control your client pipeline
Implementing a digital solution for agencies like Function Point helps you keep track of new prospects and potential customers as they go through your funnel stages. It is an all-in-one creative agency management system to control all your business operations, workflows, and financials. The software helps you automate manual tasks and save time and human resources for more important jobs like nurturing and converting leads.
Function Point’s robust CRM features allow you to centralize all client and prospect data, including contacts, touchpoints, and current status. You can customize your own sales pipeline, get full visibility into the sales processes, and understand where each lead is in the funnel. The CRM gives you a complete picture of your sales opportunities and what actions you should take for each lead.
Function Point also offers business intelligence reporting with valuable insights to remove the guesswork and enables better decision-making. As you manage all clients and leads in one place, you can also classify them into segments based on priority and value, so that your team knows where to focus.
- Deliver relevant, valuable content
As your marketing and BD team reaches out to prospective customers, they must generate value for the clients across their buying journey. With the right content at the right time, the clients can gain a better understanding of your agency’s services and develop a sense of trust and preference for your agency. Eventually, content can contribute to your contract winning.
You should use diverse content types and formats to find out which one works for your audience. Here’re a few ideas:
- Whitepapers, buyers’ guides, case studies, research, and reports are strong content chunks to give in-depth knowledge on a particular topic and show your expertise.
- Repurpose your research into infographics. Visualizing the metrics, stats, and ideas is a fun and exciting way to educate your prospective leads about the subject they’re interested in, and prove how your agency’s content is different.
- Enhance your SEO performance, your landing pages, and pillar pages, including onsite, offsite, and technical SEO. Try to rank for long-tailed keywords that speak to your niche and are not too competitive to gain more organic traffic.
- Use videos to introduce your agency or to explain some industry concepts and knowledge. Videos are engaging to convey your messages and reinforce your branding among hundreds of competitors.
- For long-form content, podcasts are the best way to discuss, get interactions with the audience, and build relationships with them.
- Optimize content for your social media channels such as Facebook or Linkedin. You can create mastermind groups on those platforms to gather like-minded people and look for potential clients.
- Host regular workshops or training events
Although digital marketing has become more popular than ever, offline networking still plays a key role in searching and engaging with clients right where they need you most. In the early stage of the buying cycle, customers may not be aware of their problems and possible solutions. They tend to seek education and need someone to explain it to them. That’s where you can take the chance.
Host frequently small business networking events to cover a marketing fundamental and showcase how your products or services can benefit potential clients. If you prove that your agency can solve a client’s basic pain points, they’re more likely to rely on you for their intermediate or advanced problems.
These events not only help participants understand a topic, but also help you to expand your connections with high-quality prospects, present yourself as an industry expert, and pitch your services in a smart way.
A tip is to partner with a meetup group or a coworking space to get more local, in-person events. These places can have extensive networks that you can be introduced to.
In addition, you can choose to host virtual meetings via a webinar service provider, or join a marketing workshop as a speaker to expose yourself to a larger audience.
- Retarget website visitors and convert them to leads
Besides looking for new clients, examine your current website traffic. Most website visitors need to come back more than once to make a buying decision. Therefore, if you don’t have the incentive to entice visitors to return, you’re missing out on opportunities.
A good way to tackle this is via retargeting. This strategy actually incorporates both content and lead-generation efforts to increase conversion. That means delivering relevant, personalized information as the prospects go on with their research.
Let us show you how.
First of all, map your client’s buying cycle. Think about what information is important to them at each stage to present content that resonates with their interest.
Next, set up the exit points for each stage. This can be different for each agency, so you must analyze your data to find out the right process. For example, people who only read your blog articles are most likely at the awareness stage. The users who viewed your About us page or the service pages could be evaluating your agency. And those who drop off from the contact page can be potential clients.
Finally, create retargeting ads to push relevant content to each segment, such as:
- Blog posts for the audience at the awareness stage,
- Lead magnets like whitepapers for the second group, and
- Case studies or other proven track records for potential customers at the last stage.
- Use strategic guest posting
Guest posting is an effective strategy to gain more exposure for your agency and raise your website authority level. However, many agencies can’t take full advantage of this method.
One of the main challenges is they don’t know where to guest post to achieve the biggest exposure.
To overcome this issue, you should create a list of 3rd party website that allows guest posts in the fields and topics relating to your services. Make sure to choose sites with high readerships and authority – it’s also an SEO strategy to get more external backlink that leads visitors to your website.
Another way is to ask your ideal customers what publications they often read. You may explore some hidden ideas that you haven’t thought of.
- Partner with non-competing companies
Building a strategic partnership creates a win-win collaboration for both companies to cross-sell complementary services to clients. Additionally, you can deliver marketing efforts via the business partner.
To do this, don’t go with agencies offering overlapped services that might compete with you. Look for a partner that can complete different aspects of clients’ needs.
For example, if you have a creative agency that plans and executes marketing campaigns, you can team up with a digital agency that can handle the IT infrastructure to produce successful campaigns for the clients.
Those services work in synergy, and by forming a strategic partnership, both agencies can deliver better services to their clients, while helping each other grow.
- Refining your strategy
Building an agency client pipeline requires constant improvement with trials and tests.
You should evaluate your progress, review your conversion rates, and track how often you can close a new contract with your target clients. Learn how your marketing resources are making a profit, their average sales size, and their lifetime value. This data will tell you how much a lead is worth, help you identify bottlenecks and modify your strategy to get more clients in a cost-effective way.
If you notice your pipeline is stuck in certain areas, or your lead-generating plan isn’t working smoothly, recheck your strategy immediately. As customers and the market can change, always be open-minded and flexible in your sales approaches to keep improving your agency pipeline.
Above are the 9 best practices to build and enhance a new client pipeline for your agency. A strong and effective sales pipeline is essential to your agency’s success. Implementing these 9 tips will help you attract more leads and acquire more clients to grow your business.